Ray Ulon Tanner

December 2, 1931November 10, 2020

Ray U. Tanner died peacefully at his home in Jackson, Tenn., on November 10, 2020, at age 88.

Mr. Tanner was born in Shreveport, La., on December 2, 1931. He moved to Tennessee upon enrolling at Southwestern at Memphis, known today as Rhodes College, where he met his love and future wife, Margaret Kathryn “Kakky” Tanner.

He graduated from Southwestern at Memphis with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1954 and promptly joined the United States Marine Corps where he was commissioned as an officer. He served three years on active duty as a 1st Lieutenant and upon his release from active duty, he served another 25 years in the active reserves, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. During this time he commanded Marines at the Platoon, Company, and Battalion levels. Ray took great pride in the USMC and actively supported the Corps throughout his entire life.

While continuing his service in the active reserves, Ray began his career in the banking industry. In 1970, after 10 years of employment at the National Bank of Commerce in Memphis, Ray, Kakky and their four children--Hugh C. Tanner, Philip Whitsitt Tanner, Camille Tanner Jones and Julie Tanner Hussey --moved to Jackson, Tenn., where he served as President and COO of the Second National Bank, known today as BankcorpSouth. Later, he was elected Chairman and CEO, serving the institution for 26 years. Ray also held many different extracurricular industry positions throughout his career. He served as President of the Tennessee Bankers Association, a member of the Federal Reserve Bank Board of the Eighth District, St. Louis, Mo., and the Federal Reserve Bank Board, Memphis, Tenn. He also served as a beloved member of the American Bankers Association, where he represented the Association as a spokesperson in radio, television and newspaper publicity.

Ray always saw “service before self,” as seen in his many community involvements. He worked tirelessly for local organizations, including United Way, RIFA, and many others. He served as President of the Jackson Rotary Club, Chairman of United Way of Jackson, and a member of the West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation. For his many accomplishments and after years of service on their Board of Trustees, his alma mater, Rhodes College, bestowed on him the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2004. Above his many career successes, Ray’s greatest pride and dearest love was for his Christian faith and service to the Presbyterian Church (USA). He served faithfully as an elder of the First Presbyterian Church of Jackson as well as in many additional denominational leadership roles. He chaired the Presbyterian Church (Southern) Board of Annuities and Relief prior to its merger with the Northern Church, the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the New Covenant Trust Company as well as the Presbyterian (USA) Foundation, the oldest church philanthropy in America, est. 1798. He also served two terms as moderator for the Memphis Presbytery (PCUSA) today known as the Presbytery of the Midsouth.

Ray is survived by his loving wife of 64 years, Kakky, and their four children, Hugh Tanner (Ellen), Whit Tanner (Missy), Camille Jones (Ralph) and Julie Hussey (Robert), as well as his beloved nine grandchildren, one great-grandchild and a second great-grandchild due in December. He is also survived by his sister, Betty Faye Tanner Womack, of Lafayette, Colorado.

Ray’s prayer for his friends and family is not to view death as an affair to mourn but rather to celebrate, for he has fought the good fight, finished the race, and found true life in acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior. Ray’s last wish was, “For peace to all and for all to rejoice for this is surely true.”

Private graveside services will be held at Ridgecrest Cemetery with Rev. John White and Rev. Courtney Bowen of First Presbyterian Church of Jackson officiating.



No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
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Charles Johnson

November 13, 2020

I went to work for Mr Tanner in 1978 and stayed until 1997. I owe him more than I can say. He gave a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks opportunities.
I hope to see him again so I can tell him so
God bless his family during this time❤️🇺🇸

Hugh Tanner

November 12, 2020

Thank you to all that have shared their love. So many wonderful friends that we have not seen in a long time. The Bostons, Erbs, Yarbros among others. We love you and appreciate your love for our Dad.

Molly Hymers

November 12, 2020

Unbelievable Ray died the day before Veterans Day. But then again not. When I think of him I think of a patriot and proud marine. I think of him as an awesome bank president. And I think of him as the cute husband and daddy to 4 fine children I grew up with as neighbors. Prayers to you all. Love to you all. Molly Hymers

Betty Faye Tanner Womack

November 11, 2020

Ray was my (little) brother and we were very close all our lives. I have lots of memories of him and cherish them forever. He was my hero. My love to Kakky and all the children and grandchildren.
--Aunt Betty Faye

Bob Boston

November 11, 2020

Mr. Tanner was the consummate gentleman, to all, regardless of their age, place or station in life. I enjoyed his presence and personality from the first day I met him. He was that unique person that made everyone who came in contact with him comfortable and at ease. He truly is the shining example of this country’s Greatest Generation. When he touched a life, it meant something. He did mine, and it does. I will miss him, and I share my condolences with Mrs. Tanner and the others in his fine family.

Bruce Yarbro

November 11, 2020

Thank you Lt Col Tanner for your advice and help throughout the years. Your steady support for me were instrumental and critical to my success in the military and beyond. I will always be grateful for your counsel. I would have never met my beautiful wife Lisa had I not gotten into the military—that is the greatest source of gratitude that I have.

Love and many prayers to your wonderful family.

I will always salute you: Semper Fi.

Chaplain Keith Guinn

November 11, 2020

Semper Fidelis and God Speed brother!

Mary Lou Erb-Layton

November 11, 2020

On behalf of my father, Blair Erb and my family we offer our prayers and love for all of this wonderful family. Ray was one of a kind and we have such great memories of Ray and the entire family. I bet my mom, Sarah Lee welcomed him home and asked for a dance! We send our love and heartfelt sympathy for the loss of “Ray Ray”.


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